ABUJA – Hitherto embattled Sen. Mohammed Musiliu Obanikoro effortlessly assailed formidable obstacles to his ministerial confirmation at the Senate of the Federal Republic yesterday, as the senators simply resolved that he bows-and-go.
Others who were confirmed as Ministers of the Federal Republic were Sen. Patricia Akwashiki (Nasarawa), Prof. Nicholas Akise Ada (Benue), Col. Augustine Okwudiri Akobundu – retd. (Abia) and Engr. Fidelis Nwankwo (Ebonyi), Mrs. Hauwa’u Lawan (Jigawa), Mr. Kenneth Kobani (Rivers) and Sen. Joel Danlami Ikenya (Taraba).
The Senate had at the resumed sitting in the committee of the whole, extended special privilege of, ‘take-a-bow,’ to Messrs Hauwa Lawan, (Jigawa); Kenneth Kobani (Rivers); and Joel IKenya, (Taraba) while the opposition vehemently resisted the appearance of Obanikoro, a nominee from Lagos state, before the senate.
Concerted efforts to stop Sen. Obanikoro’s confirmation including Originating Summons and Order for Perpetual Injunction filed at a Lagos High Court culminated in a last ditch effort by Lagos senators who chorused a deferment of the screening process.
Speaking on behalf of Senators Oluremi Tinubu (Lagos Central) and Olugbenga Ashafa (Lagos East), Ganiyu Solomon (Lagos West) urged his colleagues to look beyond partisanship and put the integrity and sanctity of the Senate above their individual and party interests.
He recalled the culture of the Senate that recognises support or otherwise of senators from the state of origin of nominees and submitted that the screening of Sen. Obanikoro be stood down pending an indepth investigation by the Senate into the allegation against him.
Apparently unawares that the nominee had been ushered into the red chamber, Sen. Solomon, the Senate Minority Whip sweated out his resistance to his confirmation, only to turn and see him already standing ramrod on the dais, waiting for action.
In his response, presiding Senate President David Mark thanked Sen. Solomon for a very frank and correct analysis and declared that “the only way out here is to put the question”, which was answered in the affirmative.
Angered by the Senate approval, all the opposition senators walked out of the chamber and addressed a press conference where they expressed their disappointment in the senate leadership handling of the issue.
Events leading to the eventual confirmation included attempts by Senators Bukola Saraki, Olugbenga Ashafa, Babajide Omoworare, George Akume, and Olubunmi Adetunmbi among others, to frustrate Obanikoro’s clearance.
The aggrieved senators cited various constitutional and senate points of order to draw Senate President Mark’s attention to the fact that Obanikoro was not eligible to be appointed as a minister because he had been implicated in some very sensitive issues that touched on serious national interest.
They also argued that there were some legal suits hanging on the neck of Obanikoro including an originating summons of a Lagos High Court instituted by a Peoples Democratic Party member, Kemi Lawal, which restrained the Senate against confirming Obanikoro as minister.
Mark ruled all the opposition senators out of order amidst the rowdy session, and insisted that the purported order of perpetual injunction restraining the chamber from confirming the nominee had not been served on him.